Food, News

A Saugus Burger King owner just paid $250,000 in fines for child labor violations

Locations in Malden and Medford were also cited.

SAUGUS — The Burger King on Route 1 North is one of 43 restaurants in violation of more than 800 child labor violations.

Shoukat Dhanani, the franchisee who owns Northeast Foods, LLC, was cited by Attorney General Maura Healey for violating state child labor laws by employing minors who were working too long, too late, and without proper work permits across the state.

Dhanani has agreed to pay a $250,000 penalty and is now in compliance with state law, according to a statement from Healey’s office.

“Many fast food employees are young, working their first jobs, and do not know their rights,” said Healey in a statement. “It’s important that this major national Burger King franchisee, which employees a number of young people, complies with child labor laws and ensures that minors are safe in its restaurants.”

Dhanani is the second largest Burger King franchise owner in the country, with restaurants in several states. In addition to the store at 720 Broadway in Saugus, his locations in Medford on 383 Mystic Ave., Malden at 61 Broadway, and Beverly at 498 Rantoul St. also faced violations.

The Saugus restaurant and drive-thru is open until midnight on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and 2 a.m. on Thursday and Friday.

“Being fined $250,000 for having 800 violations across the state is a major offense,” said Chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen Debra Panetta, who declined to comment on whether the panel would take any action against the restaurant until after she speaks to Town Counsel John Vasapolli.

The Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division investigation revealed that between January and May 2017, there were 843 violations of child labor laws at nearly 30 locations. The violations included minors working shifts that exceeded the total maximum daily hours allowed or shifts that ended later than allowed under state law. In some instances, this was past 3 a.m., according to Healey.

In Massachusetts, employees under the age of 14 cannot work, with a few exceptions including babysitting and newspaper delivery jobs.

Workers under the age of 18 need to file for a work permit for every job. Each permit is signed by a parent or guardian and also submitted to the child’s school district. If the child is 14 to 15 years old, they also need a physician to sign their permit.

After 8 p.m., all workers under 18 must be supervised directly by an adult. How early, late, and the amount of hours that a teenager can work varies by age.

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